Sunday, May 26, 2013

Things to Do

In actuality, I am hurt. It’s been over a week and it’s not any better. It’s not like any back pain that I’ve had before. It’s not sore from overuse and some rest will do the trick. It’s not like I tweaked it and if I move a certain way, it’s going to spasm and “go out,” and maybe I need an anti-inflammatory. This is different. This feels like something is wrong. It feels like my spine is collapsing in on itself like an accordion. Like the air was let out of it. It reminds me of what the Twin Towers looked like when they collapsed.

When I first get up in the morning, it feels pretty good. And then as soon as I start bending (and everything you do, whether you realize it or not, requires bending—I empty the coffee filter into the garbage, I bend. I fill the cats’ bowl, I bend. I turn on the faucet in the tub, I bend), it starts hurting. I can’t sit at the computer. I can’t put my socks on. I can’t get up in the truck. The only time it feels better is when I’m straight, standing up, or especially, lying down.

I wish Kurt could give me one of his massages where he gently stretches my spine apart (I swear, he missed his calling—he should have been a chiropractor) but he’s been working day and night. He has worked twenty days straight. He is working today, even though it’s Sunday and it’s Memorial Day weekend. He comes home when it’s dark and all I can see are the whites of his eyes because he is covered with grout or flooring patch or whatever he is using. I can’t ask him for a massage.

I thought it would get better and I’d be back to riding this week but that’s not happening. This is not good when I’m trying not to smoke because one way I stay off the cigarettes is by staying active. I keep busy. I ride my horse, I do projects, I plant flowers. I want a cigarette, I get up and move! It not only distracts me, but it keeps me from blowing like a big fat whale. I think I’ve already gained an extra ten pounds just this week now that I’ve been out of commission. Now I’m craving cigarettes even more because I’m depressed about how fat I am and I can’t do anything about it. There is nothing I can cut out food-wise. I don’t overeat. I never overeat when I quit smoking because I couldn’t care less about food—I want my nicotine! But I have started eating breakfast. I never used to eat breakfast. Suddenly, since quitting smoking, I am hungry in the morning. That’s normal and that’s good. I have a cup of yogurt and a small bowl of granola cereal. That’s all. The only other thing is I’ve been treating myself to half-and-half and flavored creamers in my coffee after supper. But that’s it. I shouldn’t be blowing like a whale! And now I can’t exercise!

I’m insulted. I can’t believe I had the nerve to get hurt. I can’t believe I’m not bouncing right back. I always bounce right back. I’m just like my mother. She bounced back from everything. Her claim to fame was how she gave birth to my sister and that weekend she was dancing on a bar, that’s on the bar, in Hoboken. When she fell and broke her hip (not off the bar; this was thirty-something years later on said sister’s icy porch), she was back on her feet so fast that her doctor called in other doctors and they crowded around her bed and polled her, wanting to know if she was some kind of positive thinker because we all know that attitude is half the battle. What else could it be? They all saw the broken bone on the X-ray and there was no denying it; it was bad. “No. No,” she said, waving a hand. “I just have things to do.”

On a good note, I had been wondering how my bones were going to hold up on the next fall. My mother had osteoporosis and I’m in menopause so I was worried about it. The last time I fell was back in Virginia when I was vacuuming up ladybugs off the ceiling and the stool slipped out from underneath me and I landed full force on my back and nothing happened. Obviously my bones are good because this time I fell even higher. The video shows me up in the air, over his head, before I fell onto the ground. So it was quite a distance. No broken bones. I’m assuming no broken bones because I haven’t seen the doctor yet but like I said in my last post, I don’t think I’d be walking if anything was broke. No, my guess is that I popped a disk.

I see the doctor Tuesday evening. But the way it works nowadays is she won’t be able to tell me squat. She will offer me pain pills which I won’t take because I’m not a pill-taker. She will give me a referral to get some kind of scan thing. Might be a regular X-ray. Might be an ultrasound. Or an MRI. It will take a week before I will be able to get in to see those people, then a few more days before they send the results to my doctor. Then I will have to go back in there so she can tell me what they saw. The whole rigmarole will take so long that I will be all better by that time. That’s my hope. Because I have things to do.

Monday, May 20, 2013

My Helmet Saved My Life

Last night I had a bit of a horse wreck. I’m okay. I’m assuming I’m okay since I’m walking. That must mean there aren’t any broken bones. But it hurt. I hit hard. I hit so hard I peed myself. I landed on my back and slammed my head. Twice. My head actually bounced and I picked up a couple of pounds of dirt in my clothes and my orifices—mouth, nose, ears—while I continued the forward motion and skidded towards home on my back, head first.

Luckily we were already past the timer when Lowdown decided that this was fun and yee-ha, he had a couple of bucks in him. (I got second place.) Unluckily, I wasn’t expecting it and there was no warning or else I think I could have stayed on. But it happened so fast, I didn’t even know what happened. Usually, if a horse starts bucking, I experience a couple of seconds of panic where I’m struggling to maintain my seat and the ground or the sky is flashing by. Sometimes I’m even riding side-saddle for a stride or two. Not real side-saddle but I’m hanging off the side of a saddle by one leg and a prayer, so I call that side-saddle. Then I manage to somehow pull myself back on. The last few times my horse bucked (not always the same horse, just in general—whenever I have been on a bucking horse), I was able to pull myself back on and keep my seat. One time it was pure luck. Harley bucked, I went off, actually went up in the air, and then I fell back down on him in just the right spot, landed smack dab in the middle of my saddle with a big plump! before he took off running. My feet even slipped right back into the stirrups like they’d never been disengaged. That was lucky.

This time I’m lucky I’m not dead. That’s how hard my head hit. I felt it in slow motion—Clunk! Clunk!—and in that split second, my brain, well protected and safe, and therefore still able to do its job, thought Thank god I wear a helmet now!

I never used to wear a helmet. I used to say they were uncomfortable. I used to say it interfered with my vision when I had one on and I couldn’t hear well. Though helmets don’t block your eyes or your ears. I don’t know how I thought anybody would believe that, but that’s what I was shoveling. The real reason is, I was too vain. They look dorky. I’m not going to lie. I still think they are dorky-looking. Even though I wear one now. I look like a big dorky egg-head when I’m wearing my helmet. No more sexy cowgirl galloping across the field of buttercups, long blonde hair flowing in the breeze…. No more cool rodeo chick in fringe shirt, blingy belt, and cowboy hat—black in winter, straw for the summer…. No more of that. The party is over. On top of my figure mysteriously changing shape, thickening around the middle since I’ve gone into menopause like I’m suddenly melting (and maybe I am, if these hot flashes are any indication), I started wearing a dorky helmet. It is not sexy.

I had to do it for the kid. How could I keep making her wear one if I was not? I actually carried on like this for a few years—made her wear one but I didn’t. When she questioned me, I appealed to her sympathy—“I tried but I just could not get used to it! In my day, they didn’t have helmets!”

I urged her to do some critical thinking—“If I jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you want to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge too? ”

I used her grandmother—“Nana always said, ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right,’” looked sheepish, and lit up a cigarette. (I don’t smoke anymore either.)

But she never fought me on it. She was never allowed on a horse without a helmet from the time we started leading her around on Minnie when she was three-years-old and so I imagine her helmet is like a headstall to her—a necessary piece of equipment that you don’t think twice about and even if her mother doesn’t wear one, her mother’s stupidity is more of a conundrum than ammunition not to wear her own.

However, my hypocrisy bothered me. Now that she was older and she could look at me with admiration due to my behavior and not simply because I was her mother, or disapproval, I had to behave better. I decided to at least try one. Give it a good try. Not just throw on some extra helmet someone had lying around. Get the right one. Research which ones were comfortable, what would work best for me, and get the proper size. And that’s what I did. (FYI, I got a Tipperary.)

The day I found myself cooling out my horse with my helmet still on because I’d forgotten to take it off because it was so comfortable was the day I knew the bullshit was over and I was a helmet-wearer.

I’m not going to say it looks nice. I am no hot number with my hair blowing in the breeze anymore. But I have a head. And brains can be quite sexy.

Helmets come in many styles. Here is the cowboy hat with helmet built-in (is my head too big?), and my personal favorite, the shark.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The First Thing I Do and the Last Thing I Do

The first thing I do when I get up in the morning is stand on my tip-toes and look out the window facing the barn. I see the big barn doors that Kurt made. They have criss-crosses on them just like I wanted. Pretty soon I will paint them, red with white trim. I see the green lawn and green pastures with white mist floating on top like a ghost’s blanket.
I see the horses. Bullet and Lowdown but not Harley because we’ve been keeping him on the other side at night and you can’t see that side from here. I don’t know if I can actually see the lilac bush on the front lawn from this spot or I just know that it’s there, but it’s got big purple blossoms on it shaped like horns of plenty.

When I come downstairs I definitely see the lilac bush that’s by the kitchen window.

Yesterday when we had the window opened because the weather was so nice, you could smell the lilacs in the house. I picked some and put them in a vase.

I was so happy when we got this house and I discovered that I had two old-timey lilac bushes. I texted Kurt, “These lilacs are making me horny.” I knew he’d get a kick out of that, plus it was true, maybe not in a direct way, but indirectly, like how being able to pay bills gets me horny or riding the horse gets me horny—if I feel good, I’m much more likely to want sex. When he came up to the bedroom last night, he brought a lilac with him and dangled it over my nose. Then he gave me a massage because my back hurts and we made love.
That was the last thing I did last night.